Happy Easter! I’d love to say it was a nice relaxing day surrounded by friends and family, but in all honesty it was just me on the ranch and a whole day of calving and feeding.
The Boss Man’s Wife had called the evening before to let me know that they had got me an Easter gift that was hidden in a cedar chest in their house. I stopped in after lunch, and lo and behold it was two packages of chocolate-dipped Peeps. OK, it was one package. The other one had been open and two of the Peeps removed. I questioned her about it that evening and she said she had removed two of them to send with the gift boxes to the niece and nephew. I have no clue why a third of a box of Peeps lifted by spirits up, but I laughed about it the rest of the day.
This year I had done something just a little bit different by giving up sweets for Lent. This was a hair-brained idea that had come about the day before Ash Wednesday. I am not Catholic, and have the absolute worst sweet tooth. It seemed like a set up to fail.
I have attempted to cut back on sweets before, but it usually lasts only a day or two, until the next drive by a Dairy Queen where the Blizzard sign is calling my name. I discovered that the key is heavenly pressure. I couldn’t cave when I thought God was watching.
The downside, though, is the Peeps lasted about five minutes after I found them and I realized quickly how the body feels after overindulging in something that hasn’t been touched for weeks. It was probably not one of the smartest moves I’ve made recently.
The Boss Man made a trip to Kansas last week to pick up a new piece of cattle working equipment, which left me to an afternoon of playing with livestock at the feedlot by myself. I had one rogue yearling bull that is supposed to reside three pens away from the heifers. He had got into their pen a couple of times before he got trailered over to the house to live with the horses. The annoying part is that he knew where he was supposed to be. Every time he’d see me coming with the ATV he’d take off on a dead run back to the gate going into his pen. We had put up an electric fence plugged into a 110 that deterred him, but as many deer that reside at the feedlot it was a daily challenging keeping it from being shorted out.
After he got hauled over to the horses, along with a banded cohort, I thought I had better run the small group of heifers through for a prostaglandin shot. The heifers worked just fine, and I thought since I had the generator going there I should run over two heifers from a big pen that were missing yearling weights. Those figures would be used in our data program to figure ratios before the Boss Man and I sorted replacement females. It always sounded easy.
This pen had over 200 heifers in it. I located the first one right by the gate and had her sorted off and through the gate in a matter of minutes. The second one took a little more searching, but as soon as I located her number, I had her sorted off and through the same gate.
Then I made the cardinal mistake of ranching. I told myself “good job, bad donkey.” It just went downhill from there.
The two heifers started around the lake (kind of lagoon) over to the corrals. One made it. The other decided the lake looked refreshing on a warm day and went for it. She took off right across the middle, getting deeper and deeper until all you could see was a bobbing head.
Then, completely uncharacteristic for a yearling heifer, she stopped out in the water with just her head sticking out and decided that’s where she was going to camp out. That’s something I would expect in a mature bull, but in a heifer I hadn’t seen this behavior before.
Long story short, with a little encouragement from the four-legged Holy Terror, she finally came up onto shore. She and her compadre walked calmly through the chute. I grabbed a weight, turned them back out, and she trotted right back into the lake again.
I said, “Heck with that. They could spend the night outside of their pen,” and I went to tag newborns.
The moral of the story is that ranching can teach us humility and patience every single day. There are often times I’d love to put that same scenario in front of an animal rights activist. Maybe they’d come to an understanding of why we aren’t all vegans.
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.